Baptist Hospital has finalized design plans for a new behavioral health unit that administrators say will be constructed in Pensacola with “state-of-the-art” design features proven to help mental health healing.
The approximately 50,000-square-foot facility will be built as part of the new Baptist Hospital campus located at the intersection of Brent Lane and Interstate 110 at an estimated cost of over $30 million.
The decision on the part of Baptist Hospital administrators to include the behavioral health unit in the new campus plans was made in response to an increasing need for mental health services across the country and also, specifically, in Pensacola.
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“I think we’ve seen it all over the country, the need for mental health services has really been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Brett Aldridge, senior vice president of strategy and business development and administrator of Baptist Hospital.
“We have a long history of taking care of the mental health needs of this community, and so we felt like we were positioned to kind of see those trends emerging early,” he continued. “And as we began thinking about a new health campus, mental health was an important component of that.”
Similar to medical institutions throughout the country, Baptist Hospital has seen an increase in patients seeking mental health treatment since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
“Because of the experience that we have in this space, we really wanted to take that next step and invest in a new state-of the-art-facility that could create a healing environment to meet the needs of this kind of the growing mental health issue — that’s happening all across the country, but certainly in our own community,” Aldridge said.
The unit will feature 72 beds with 36 beds allocated for adult patients, 10 for geriatric patients, 14 for adolescents and 12 beds to accommodate children.
“We provide care to thousands of individuals requiring inpatient behavioral health care each year. More than 1,100 of those patients are children ages 10 to 17 and as young as age 5,” Mark Faulkner, president and CEO of Baptist Health Care, said in a written statement. “We are honored to bring this new facility and environment to our community that will offer a haven in which patients can focus on their recovery.”
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The building is designed for inpatient care but will not be a long-term care facility.
“It’s for a moment in time where patients need some intensive therapy and so in an inpatient setting,” Aldridge said. “It’s for a moment in time where patients need some intensive therapy.”
Patients will be able to go to the inpatient unit and stay for a period of time until they “become stabilized” and/or before resuming or beginning new outpatient therapies, Aldridge later added.
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The floor plan includes patient rooms, day rooms for common gatherings, meeting spaces for both group gatherings and one-on-one consultations and a sensory room.
The sensory room will combine multiple types of stimuli such as special lighting, colors and sounds that aid people in developing, engaging with and regulating their senses.
“It’s interesting. It has a variety of different stimuli: lights and colors and sound. There’s some interactive components to it,” Aldridge said in reference to an LED interactive screen that will be included in the stimuli room.
“Really, it’s a place for quiet kind of reflective healing, but where you’re not isolated because you do have different stimulations going on. It’s new and different, but it’s a cool space.”
The colors selected for the building’s interior are meant to reflect a coastal environment to promote a calm and soothing ambiance. Additional plans call for the building to be filled with an abundance of natural light that “has been shown to play a crucial role in healing,” according to Baptist Hospital officials.
Because medical professionals know that outdoor settings can promote healing, Aldridge said, the new behavioral health unit will also feature outdoor areas including multiple gardens for patients to walk and spend time in.
The new Baptist Hospital campus is expected to open in the fall of 2023.
Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8680.